[A perspective on the] Recognition and Reconciliation Act.





To All First Nations People:

I am writing to you knowing that we are all united as Native people in our love and respect for the land, which is ours and will always be. We see the generations of our people not yet born and we pass our love to them. We respectfully heed the voices of supremacy and power of our ancestors that were wise to pass their love to us. We remain forever grateful to our ancestors with their teachings and wisdom.

My people are clear that the proposed Recognition and Reconciliation Act is a dead-end and that we have decided to withdraw all support. In its current context the proposed Recognition and Reconciliation Act can achieve no justice for our people. It is time for all First Nations to formally denounce the proposal and walk away from further development as there is no possibility of achieving a just reconciliation within the existing “Discussion Paper”. The governments of British Columbia have proven again that they are not willing to move away from their racist positions, and after 150 years they are not capable of respecting our true existence.

I am respectfully asking you and your community to refuse to participate and declare and to maintain our alliance to protect our inherent rights and our lands.  Say “NO” to the proposed Recognition and Reconciliation Act. Join with us in the “cause” on Facebook. In moving forward by living our culture and traditional governance on the land, we know this is the way to truly decolonize our Nations and gain the collective strength we need to force the government to recognize and respect our people and our rights.

Brothers and Sisters: We will not surrender. We will survive. The proposed Recognition and Reconciliation Act will corrupt our souls, divide and destroy our people; B.C. is using this process to bankrupt us, to deny our rights, and to insult our ancestors. B.C will be the big jurisdictional winner and indigenous people will be the major losers. So, we say it is time to kill the proposed Recognition and Reconciliation Act process so that our people can survive.

Alongside other First Nations in B.C., we have identified several key areas that require immediate attention in order to re-establish a forum for a just resolution to our grievances within the context of the existing “Discussion Paper”. It is clear, that “certainty” is a one-sided issue. The balance of certainty in this case, favours B.C. and industry. The B.C. government wants to hear nothing about a fair compensation package before the passage of this legislation in exchange for “certainty”.

The Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) and the First Nations Summit (FNS) (collectively known as the First Nations Leadership Council) both recently held chiefs’ meeting in Vancouver. Neither organization is willing to accept the Carrier Sekani proposal of including six recommendations as part of the development process, carrying out due diligence and developing a sound financial business case proposal. Both organizations received a presentation of a critique of the “Discussion Paper” from the Carrier Sekani in the first of a series of regional meetings on May 28, 2009.

We need not another promise to negotiate; the governments already passed legislation with a promise to negotiate by way of the B.C Treaty Commission Process. A promise to “negotiate” revenue and shared decision-making are two of the major columns supporting the super structure of the “Discussion Paper”.

The Carrier Sekani says that revenue and shared decision-making should be negotiated first; business modeling and a business case developed. Currently, we are experiencing massive on-going infringements due to developments and alienation of lands in our territory. It’s a fair question for every community in Carrier Sekani. What is the proposed compensation package of the existing massive on-going infringements in our territory? Neither the First Nations Leadership Council nor B.C. has an answer to that very basic and simple question.

If the proposed Recognition and Reconciliation Act is such a good proposal; the question arises as to the reasons that motivate governments to continue to fight our brave Tsilhqot’in brothers and sisters on the issues from their court victory. Former Chief Roger William led his warriors to a landmark court victory widely known as the William’s case.

If the First Nations Leadership Council and B.C is good on their word; the governments would abandon the court appeals process and our Tsilhqot’in brothers and sisters need not to appear in any more court processes. The Tsilhqot’in and the governments would be discussing transition issues of federal/provincial laws to the Tsilhqot’in laws and revenues in anticipation of the dawn of a “New Relationship”. We are being told that we don’t have to “drag our people to court” with the Recognition and Reconciliation Act. That statement is misleading. The reality check tells you the real story and of one example of likely scenarios in a post Recognition and Reconciliation Act environment.   

Below are some of the main comments about provincial laws the B.C. Supreme Court enunciated in respect to the Tsilhqot’in territory: 

  • Forest Act “does not apply to the forest resources located on aboriginal title lands” (para 1013)
  • Interjurisdictional immunity – provincial resource laws “inapplicable” to aboriginal title lands  (para 1045)
  • “The right of exclusive use and possession is fundamental to Aboriginal title” (para 1048)

Below is the information the Carrier Sekani presented to the First Nation Leadership Council: 

Strategic Shift in the Negotiations with B.C. 


Recommendation 1:
Shared Decision Making  

•    Drive to re-work the environmental review processes. (free, prior & informed consent) 
•    First Nations already have de facto decision-making power without any legislation. 
•    Direct the First Nations Leadership Council to advance the First Nations Review Process.

Recommendations 2: Shared Revenue 
•    Develop a model that would clearly express the level of revenue First Nations Communities can expect. 
•    Direct the First Nations Leadership Council to structure a revenue sharing model based on the total natural resource and crown tenure revenues in the province of British Columbia.

Recommendations 3: Exclusive Aboriginal Title  

•    The “Exclusive” form of Aboriginal Title should be clearly expressed in the proposed legislation. 
•    Direct the First Nations Leadership Council to structure the “Exclusive” form of Aboriginal Title in the proposed legislation. 

Recommendation 4: Capacity Funding  

•    Should be made available to the communities to evaluate all legislative proposals. 
•    First Nations have to spend their own time and limited funds to evaluate the existing “Discussion Paper” 
•    Direct the FNLC to secure capacity funds for communities to evaluate further development of the proposal.

Recommendation 5: Indigenous Nations 
•    More in-depth development in this part of the proposal. 
•    Reformation of leadership structures based on our traditional ethics and governance models. 
•    Constitutions need to be developed 
•    Resolution of territorial matters among First Nations using our own processes and protocols. 

Recommendation 5: Indigenous Nations

•    Traditional governance models are more inclusive & consensus based in decision-making.
•    Direct the First Nations Leadership Council to secure capacity funding to further develop the Indigenous Nations concept.

 

Recommendation 6: Ratification Process

l  All B.C. Chiefs Forum? – Not Recommended

l  Band Council Resolutions? – Not Recommended

l  By members? Referendum? – People have the power! - Recommended

The First Nations Summit chairs and Task Group members clearly refused the Carrier Sekani proposal at the last FNS meeting in Vancouver. The FNS Chiefs in assembly were denied the opportunity to vote on the matter and abandoned the rules of the FNS meeting procedure. The FNS chairs declared that the resolution was passed by “consensus” when in fact their was no consensus to continue further development. Clearly, the regional sessions are a mere formality of process for the First Nations Leadership Council and that they have no intention of accepting and adopting recommendations from the communities.

There is no reason to believe at this point that our values, beliefs and input will be considered and adopted by the First Nations Leadership Council. The Carrier Sekani is left with little choice but to condemn any further development of the proposal. The First Nations Leadership Council announced that it intends on hosting an “All BC Chiefs Forum” to get approval on advancing the “Discussion Paper” to draft legislation. You need to get up and speak for your God given title and rights, consult with your leadership immediately.        

By denouncing the proposed Recognition and Reconciliation Act and focusing on rebuilding our traditional government systems, we can rebuild our communities and nations and reconnect with our cultures. We can resolve the territorial disputes that have arisen and use our own processes and protocols. We can continue being sovereign Nations. We need no government intervention. Let us move forward by living our culture and traditional governance on the land. This is the way to truly decolonize our Nations and maintain and gain the collective strength. 

We need all of our brothers and sisters to be courageous in taking action against the real problem instead of waiting around while the process does more harm and steals more land from our people. We will never give up on ourselves, we will not ruin the land, we will never surrender the future of our children, and we will not dishonour our ancestors. The youth are looking to us for leadership; the elders are expecting a lot of us. Let’s make them proud to be Native and stand up for who we are. Make it your task to betray further development of the proposed Recognition and Reconciliation Act.

 

Join us on Facebook today.

 

Below is a link to a website you can access to join the Facebook Cause; it is that easy.

 

http://apps.facebook.com/causes/293855/65304755

 

 

PS: I’ll be on the Ben Meisner Radio show @ 9:00 a.m., Thursday June 18, 2009 regarding this issue. Click the link below to listen.

 

http://www.opinion250.com/news

 

David Luggi

Carrier Sekani Tribal Chief

http://www.carriersekani.ca/ 

cell 250.640.6622

Tags: